Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Christmas/Epiphany letter

A blessed Epiphany to you!
(Since I’m writing this on the 11th Day of Christmas, I am assuming that most of you will see it after Epiphany.)

This has been another year for us to count our many blessings and to enjoy the wonderful life we have here in Fort Wayne. It seems to have gone very quickly, but on the other hand, last February seems like a long time ago. As a family we enjoyed our church, our garden, our fire pit, and going to a few TinCaps games.

Colin’s year was shaped by the changes going on at work. Many of you know that the company has decided to move its Fort Wayne operations to Chicagoland. As part of that process, and because of his promotion this summer to Chief Engineer, Hybrid Powertrain, he has been spending increasing amounts of time in the Chicago area. Between that and his other travels, we’ve spent a fair amount of time missing him. He has continued to serve as the Chairman of our congregation and to sing in the church choir. He also sang with the Bach Collegium through the fall, but has had to give that up for now because of his traveling. Don’t ask us how this Chicago-based job thing is going to work. We don’t know. We just know that after almost nine years Fort Wayne is home and we aren’t leaving. He likes his job. The most likely solution is a long commute every weekend for a few years.

Bethany has had a somewhat eventful year, joining the ranks of the uncounted unemployed in August. Her paralegal job had its interesting and challenging-in-a-good-way moments, but she also had a challenging-in-a-bad-way boss, who was causing her so much stress that her health was in danger. We told her to quit or we were kicking her out of the house.
(Not really.)
(Well, almost.)
Now she’s babysitting on a regular basis for the one and three year-old sons of some friends. (I, personally, would choose a psycho-tyrant boss over small children, but Bethany is of a gentler disposition than I am.)  Increasingly frequent visits from our friend Evan Meyer have turned into the two of them being “In a Relationship” on Facebook, Evan visiting for Christmas and her going to Wisconsin to visit his family the week after. She is still singing with the Bach Collegium and the church choir, and reluctantly teaching Sunday School. She continues to be the same adorable Bethany, but if I say anything too good about her, she won’t let me send this, so I’ll stop with that.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the commercials: “BankAmericard has become VISA.”
Patrick Casey has become BOW TIE GUY.  In August he added a much-needed job at JC Penney to his schedule. He works in the men's clothing department, and between his sartorial individuality and his charming personality, he has become a bit famous. His sister, attending a movie with him, was accosted by a group of girls who approached her when he made a concessions run, wanting to know how she was lucky enough to know BOW TIE GUY and to be in his presence. When he isn’t hanging out at the mall, he is a sophomore at IPFW majoring in German, minoring in History & Political Science, and making his parents very happy with his stellar grades. He still acolytes when needed, and enjoys helping to train (read intimidate) the new members of the corps.

Jonathan found a new love this year and in the process we threw our normal life out the window. In January he auditioned for two musicals. His plan was to be in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre if he got a part. But since he didn’t really expect a part on his first attempt, he also auditioned for a part in the New Haven High School production of The Sound of Music. He didn’t get the Joseph part, so he took the role of Rolf in TSOM. A week a later the Civic called. They had lost their Benjamin and wanted Jonathan for the part. Performances and rehearsals didn’t overlap. It could be done. It would mean much craziness. Rehearsals from 3-5:30 in New Haven and from 6-10 downtown. Twenty performances in four weeks in March. Since New Haven High School is between 18 & 25 miles, and 30 & 45 minutes from our house, depending on the route, this was not a small time commitment for me. I spent most afternoons in January, February, & March sitting in my car reading, or hanging out at the New Haven library and my evenings running around town. But just seeing him on stage in Joseph--singing and dancing--made it all worth it. He had a blast.

He followed up the spring shows with Sweeney Todd in a summer theater production at North Side High School, and then was back at the Civic for White Christmas this fall. More shows on tap for this spring and summer. He continues to sing with the Bach Collegium and the church choir, and still loves to acolyte. He also sang the national anthem at a TinCaps game again this year. His siblings want me to tell you that he routinely sleeps 12-14 hours a day. As far as homeschooling, he is somewhere in his junior year. The heavy musical schedule pushed academics to the back burner for a while, and he will graduate either next December or the spring afterward.

Andrew never leaves the house without his overloaded backpack. Never. It is packed with Greek, Latin, Biology, Algebra, and some sort of music, plus whatever book he is currently reading. Academically he’s a sophomore, but if he ends up deciding to go to Indiana Academy his junior year, we’re calling this his freshman year to give me more time to adjust to the idea of him leaving. He has also taken to carrying Jonathan’s guitar around with him.

When he isn’t carrying his backpack and guitar around, he likes to play on the xbox, pick out songs on the piano, and chat with his friends on gmail. He got glasses this year and enjoyed the attention that brought. He has continued to love acolyting and loved helping to train some new acolytes. (Of course, we know that’s mostly because he got to talk and they had to listen.) His siblings think that he is the coolest member of the family.

Andrew asks, “What about BenCat & Callie?” To steal a line from my Pastor, “They’re cats.”

My year was good. I got to garden, cook, scrapbook, read, and hang out with my kids. I continue in my seemingly endless, pointless quest to save time and money by moving out of this house and closer to church.

Once again we were blessed with an abundance of visitors and lots of time with good friends, although it never seems like enough! I made it to Higher Things in Nashville and got to see some old friends, and to put faces and smiles with some names. The next month I had the pleasure of seeing many of our friends who came to Redeemer for our second annual family retreat. We also had a great day at the lake with my aunts and uncles and cousins, who I rarely get to see. (We are blessed to see most of our family often enough that it is not an event, although the fall visit of Sean & Anne from Australia definitely qualifies!)

I have what is arguably the best job in the world, being secretary at Redeemer Lutheran Church. My hours are flexible. I get to spend lots of time putting together bulletins, looking at hymns, etc. I am getting to know the members our congregation better. I can decide that I am just not counting an hour that I spent at my desk because I decided to check Facebook “real quick.”  My sons can go with me and either do something productive or just hang out. My boss is not a psycho-tyrant and I don’t have to play with three year-olds, fold the same sweater for the 34th time, or drive to Chicago. Every once in a while I get ambitious and think about revving my Melaleuca business up again,and am quickly slapped down by the realities of my schedule, but the desire is still there.

 This has been a challenging year for some of the people we love. There have been some hard losses due to deaths or economic realities, and sometimes both. You are in our prayers as we go into the New Year.

We enter 2011 thanking God for all of you.

Love, The Caseys

O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
You shine with God's own truth and light,
     Aglow with grace and mercy!
Of Jacob's race, King David's son,
Our Lord and master, You have won
     Our hearts to serve You only!
          Lowly, holy!
     Great and glorious,
     All victorious,
          Rich in blessing!
Rule and might o'er all possessing!

Come, heav'nly bridegroom, light divine,
And deep within our hearts now shine;
     There light a flame undying!
In Your one body let us be
As living branches of a tree,
     Your life our lives supplying.
          Now, though daily
     Earth's deep sadness
     May perplex us
          And distress us,
Yet with heav'nly joy You bless us.

Lord, when You look on us in love,
At once there falls from God above
     A ray of purest pleasure.
Your Word and Spirit, flesh and blood
Refresh our souls with heav'nly food.
     You are our dearest treasure!
          Let Your mercy
     Warm and cheer us!
     O draw near us!
          For You teach us
God's own love through You has reached us.

Almighty Father, in Your Son
You loved us when not yet begun
     Was this old earth's foundation!
Your Son has ransomed us in love
To live in Him here and above:
     This is Your great salvation.
     Christ the living,
     To us giving
          Life forever,
Keeps us Yours and fails us never!

O let the harps break forth in sound!
Our joy be all with music crowned,
     Our voices gladly blending!
For Christ goes with us all the way--
Today, tomorrow, ev'ry day!
     His love is never ending!
          Sing out!  Ring out!
          Tell the story!
Great is He, the King of glory!

What joy to know, when life is past,
The Lord we love is first and last,
     The end and the beginning!
He will one day, oh, glorious grace,
Transport us to that happy place
     Beyond all tears and sinning!
          Amen!  Amen!
     Come, Lord Jesus!
     Crown of gladness!
          We are yearning
For the day of Your returning!

(Lutheran Service Book, 395  by Philipp Nicolai)

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